Lenovo Vibe Z2 hands-on: say hello to the metal mid-ranger
Technology buffs have probably heard of the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro, already, despite Lenovo's relative unpopularity in western smartphone markets. The top-of-the-line Lenovo phablet is not what we have at hand here, though -- rather, we managed to get our paws on its humbler and smaller sibling, the Lenovo Vibe Z2.
Does this 64-bit phablet have what it takes to capture the attention of the crowd in the same way as its bigger brother? Let's find out.
Of course, while sharp edges are a rarity these days, not everyone is a fan of the look. And while that is mostly subjective, we've gotta agree that the corners of the device dug a bit uncomfortably into the palm when handling the Vibe Z2.
If there's one thing about the Vibe Z2 that we prefer over the Vibe Z2 Pro, that would be screen size. Indeed, the 5.5-inch display here is just more manageable, and the 720 x 1280 pixel resolution (267 ppi) is alright. Unfortunately, we don't know the exact tech used with the display, so it remains to be seen if this is an IPS LCD panel, or something else. Generally speaking, we'd wager that it is, as Lenovo has been using those for a while now.
Lastly, according to Lenovo, the screen is extremely bright, with a peak of 520 nits, though we'd obviously prefer to verify that figure ourselves before taking it for granted.
Most of you won't be aware of that, but Lenovo's latest Android 4.4 Kitkat-based Vibe UI update is a looker. Like most manufacturers from China, the custom UI has no app drawer, so all the apps are housed on the homscreen, separately or in folders.
Lenovo has also outfitted the software with quite a few features, including night mode, which dims the display to tolerable levels for reading in darkness, along with invert mode, which, as you can guess, inverts the mostly bright theme into a dark one, again helping with night reading. Unfortunately, while we've played around with Lenovo's new skin on other devices, the software loaded on the Vibe Z2 was unstable, and sometimes stuttered visibly. Since we have separate data points, we're ready to let this one slide, as we understand that the company likely had a pre-production unit on show.
Processor and memory
One of the big surprises Lenovo served us with the Vibe Z2 is the processor packed within. All the company disclosed is that it's a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon, but it doesn't really take a genius to connect the dots and conclude that we're talking about a Snapdragon 615 -- the same processor that the HTC Desire 820 was unveiled with just earlier today.
Assuming that this is the SD615, we're then talking about an upper mid-range processor with eight cores configured in two clusters of four: four Cortex-A53 cores, clocked at 1.7GHz, and another four, clocked at 1GHz. The chip is able to cycle between the two clusters depending on its duties, but can also mobilize them all together for superior performance, if need be. Add an Adreno 405 GPU and 1GB of RAM to the mix, and lag or slowdowns should be the last thing on your mind when looking at this device (and Lenovo fixes the software issues).
The two cameras on board the Lenovo Vibe Z2 are yet another thing to get excited about, especially if you consider that this is a mid-range device.
At the back, we've got a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor BSI sensor with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), which, again, is pretty impressive considering this is a mid-ranger. At this point, Lenovo has revealed no other specifics about the sensor, though, again, we can conclude that if the Vibe Z2 is equipped with a Snapdragon 615, then the highest video capture resolution will be 1080 x 1920 at 30 frames per second.
As for the camera at the front, we've got a very generous, 8-megapixel snapper with anti-distortion lens, perfect for selfies.
Considering what you get in return, the Lenovo Vibe Z2 can be said to be affordable -- it costs $429 off-contract, a third less than most flagships. The company has planned released in a number of regions, including China (in October) and Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East later on.
Quite frankly, Lenovo is looking better and better by the month, and the Vibe Z2 is a solid proof of that.